Uganda: High court upholds women’s rights

Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruled April 4 that provisions of the Penal Code and Succession Acts affecting women are unconstitutional. The court’s decision was in response to petitions brought in 2005 and 2006 by the group Law and Advocacy for Women (LAW).

An adultery law placing heavier burdens of proof on women than on men and providing compensation for men only was struck down. No longer will property of a man dying without a will go to the state rather than to his widow. Formerly, widows who remarried would lose family property; fathers, but not mothers, could determine guardianship of children; and relatives of a deceased husband had rights to the family’s property.

The judges declared they were rejecting laws that viewed women as second-class citizens, according to an Inter Press Service report. LAW Director Dora Byamukama told reporters that she expects Uganda’s Parliament to enact new laws that protect women’s rights.

Greece: Communist parties rally behind Cuba

The Communist Party of Greece has disseminated a statement signed by 35 communist and workers’ parties denouncing the European Union’s plans to adopt a new “strategy document” that would intensify “outrageous discriminatory practices, pressures and intervention” against Cuba pushed by the Bush administration.

The statement also calls for increased grassroots solidarity with the people of the socialist island.

The Greek party’s web site,, reports that 34 European communist parties, joined by the South African Communist Party, signed the statement rejecting U.S.-inspired plans to bring about regime change in Cuba.

It says that the EU has never before pursued “a joint strategy against another country of the world,” and that the anti-Cuba campaign is aligning the EU nations “completely with the policies and plans of the USA.” It also points out the irony of some of the most reactionary governments in Europe, including those in the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania, becoming champions of “human rights” and “democracy.”

Guatemala: Thousands attend indigenous summit

Beginning March 26, indigenous peoples from 24 countries gathered for a week at a sacred Mayan site in Iximché, Guatemala, for the Third Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples. Ceremonies, cleansing rituals, plenary sessions and workshops unfolded under a tent set up among pyramids. The theme was “from resistance to power,” and discussions covered economic and political issues such as relations with governments, natural resources and methods for governing.

At an inaugural session, Blanca Chancoso from Ecuador rejected war, militarization and free trade pacts. “Our world is not for sale,” she declared. “Imperialism and capitalism have left us with a historic debt.”

A Declaration of Iximché called for respect for human rights, territory and self-determination. It ratified ancestral rights to territory, denounced the U.S. wall along its border with Mexico and called for the legalization of coca leaves. The next indigenous summit will take place in Chile somewhere near the border with Bolivia and Peru, according to

Iraq: Prominent union leader killed

Najim Abd-Jasem was general secretary of the Mechanics Workers Union in Iraq. A member of the Iraqi Communist Party, he had been part of the underground trade union movement. With the fall of the Saddam regime, he joined other union leaders to form the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, now the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW).

Unidentified militia forces abducted him on March 27. His tortured body was found three days later.

Manfred Warda, general secretary of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions, demanded of Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “full respect for the fundamental human and trade union rights of workers.” He cited attacks on GFIW offices and abductions of unionists and previous murders.

LabourStart quoted a Global Union Federation spokesperson who saw the murder as symptomatic of a “systematic campaign under way in Iraq to eliminate the leadership of the newly formed independent and democratic unions that strongly oppose sectarianism.”

Japan: U.S. troop redeployment under fire

The Japanese House of Representatives is debating a bill to implement the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. It calls on the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to fund housing units and other facilities in Guam to accommodate U.S. troops now based in Okinawa. The bill also seeks to persuade municipalities to host new U.S. bases by providing regional development grants.

Spokespersons for the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) criticized the lack of objective criteria and autonomy given the Japanese Defense Minister in selecting communities, according to

The Japanese and U.S. governments have already agreed upon shared use of the Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, a new U.S. Army headquarters in Kanagawa Prefecture, and the relocation of U.S. carrier-borne aircraft to the Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi.

JCP leaders say government involvement with U.S. troop relocations violates the Japanese constitution and that the new bases will lead to noise pollution and accidents.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (atwhit @